Washington, DC, foster care and adoption guidelines

Thank you for your interest in foster care and adoption.

On this page:

State contact information

The District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA)
202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683)

Para información en Español, contacte:
202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683)

Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

Prospective parents in the District of Columbia can be single or married, and with or without children. District of Columbia families don't have to be wealthy to be approved to adopt or provide foster care for a child. All that's necessary is for them to have sufficient financial resources to provide adequate care for a child and to meet the family’s financial responsibilities. Families don’t have to own a home either, they can be renters.

The minimum age to become an adoptive or foster family is 21. There is no maximum age.

According to state regulations, District of Columbia families who want to become adoptive or foster care families must complete a minimum of 30 hours of training.

Also, please note that if you are considering a domestic adoption, you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen, but you must be a legal resident in the country.

Read more about  fostering or adopting from the public child welfare system in the District of Columbia.

Costs to foster and adopt

There may be minimal fees in regard to becoming licensed as a foster or adoptive parent with DC’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA). CFSA encourages all DC families who wish to foster or adopt the DC children currently waiting for families to select CFSA as your agency. Please call 202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683) to speak with a CFSA representative and learn more. 

For DC families who are fostering or adopting through CFSA, there are attorneys that are available to assist with the legal process.  Please speak with CFSA at 202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683) to find out if there is any financial assistance with legal fees.

However, DC families can choose a private agency.  If you do, then fees may be applied by that private agency. The District of Columbia has adoption fees set by statute.  If your family is working with a private agency and you are adopting a child in CFSA custody, CFSA may pay for purchase of service (placement and finalization fees) on a case-by-case basis.

When adopting a child with special needs, DC families are eligible for a Federal Tax Credit once your adoption has been finalized. This tax credit is intended to help families with the expenses associated with your adoption. This is true for families regardless of whether you work with CFSA or a private agency.

If you have questions, please talk with an agency representative by calling  202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683).

Agency contact and orientation information

To learn about information sessions offered by Child and Family Services Agency, call  202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683).

Choosing an agency can sometimes be confusing, but is one of the most important steps of this process. You must decide whether you prefer to work with a public or private agency. The best way to decide which agency is best for you and your family is by contacting some of them directly and attending their information sessions.

For public adoptions, please contact the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) at 202-671-LOVE.

The Child and Family Services Agency holds information sessions for foster care and adoption prospective parents at the following times:

  • Second Saturday of every month: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Fourth Thursday of every month: 6  to 8 p.m., except in November and December.

The meeting place is subject to change so if you plan to attend please contact (202) 671-LOVE (5683) so that they can provide you with the correct meeting location.

For a complete list of District of Columbia Licensed private agencies, please contact the Child and Family Services Agency at 202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683).

Post adoption support services

See a comprehensive list of post-adoption and guardianship support services and support groups available to families who live in Washington, DC.

Information on children

There are approximately 900 District children and teens living outside of their birth homes under the care of the public child protection system, and this number has been declining over the last year. Currently, there are about a hundred District youngsters that are hoping to be adopted. To provide the safety and stability these young people deserve, the community must help. Please call: 202-671-LOVE (202-671-5683).

View DC children at the following websites: